BALTIMORE – Three members of Maryland’s congressional delegation backed the Health Care for America NOW organization’s priority list on Friday, promising to work for affordable health care coverage for all.
The group, in the offices of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, was joined by Reps. John Sarbanes, D-Towson, Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Cockeysville, and representatives for Maryland’s two Senate Democrats Benjamin Cardin and Barbara Mikulski.
“Our system is fundamentally broken,” said Maryland AFSCME Director Patrick Moran, adding it’s “off the tracks.”
Healthy children are better prepared for learning than those who miss days at school or lack proper eye or dental care, said Maryland State Teacher’s Association Vice President Betty Weller, one of the representatives from the health, services, education and other constituents attending the news conference.
More money needs to be put into Medicaid in order to ensure quality health care for everyone, said Maryland Citizen’s Health Initiative President Vincent DeMarco.
The current administration has sided with drug companies, which has led to high prescription prices, DeMarco said.
Baltimore pediatrician Dr. Ari Silver-Isenstadt of National Physicians Alliance said whenever an uninsured adult caretaker of one his patients has to go to the hospital, he wonders who looks out for the child.
It is important for citizens to have access to health care that “does not cherry pick” who is entitled to quality treatment, Silver-Isenstadt said.
Also attending were representatives from Planned Parenthood of Maryland, the AFL-CIO and the ACLU.
Valerie Henry of Baltimore is one example of how the lack of insurance affects quality of life.
Henry, 57, has rheumatoid arthritis. She is uninsured but is ineligible for disability payments, and she is not old enough to retire, she said.
People should not have to choose between paying the rent and paying for much-needed medication, Henry said after the meeting.
In honor of Halloween, Matthew Weinstein, Maryland coordinator for Health Care for America NOW had two carved pumpkins on the table, one healthy with a smiling face, and the other sick with pumpkin pulp and seeds spewing from its mouth.
A poster on an easel titled “Which Side Are You On?” had two columns, one for health insurance on your own, and the other for “quality affordable health care for all.”
The three congressmen signed on the affordable health care side.
Cummings half-jokingly said he wants to be like the smiling pumpkin, but too often he sees Marylanders who look like the sick pumpkin.
The fight for quality health care began as a personal issue, Ruppersberger said. Ruppersberger suffered numerous broken bones from a serious car crash and credits University Hospital for saving his life.
Affordable health care for all is “common sense legislation,” Sarbanes said. President Bush’s two vetoes of the bipartisan children’s health insurance program bill twice were a “travesty,” Sarbanes said.
Health Care for America NOW plans to go on a nationwide grassroots campaign promoting health care reform, according to its Web site. Weinstein said the organization plans to bring its message to Washington next month.